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• Watching through tear-filled eyes
OBAMA BACKS OFF - President Obama originally intended to rally the country behind a strike on Syria, but instead announced Tuesday he was hitting pause on his call for Congress to endorse his plan for air strikes in Syria. Obama said he now wants to let negotiations over a Russian plan proceed. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will withdraw his offer to help secure Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles unless Obama withdraws his threat of military action. The president urged congressional leaders to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force against Syria while diplomatic options are pursued. Watch Obama’s speech here.
Next steps - Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Thursday to attempt to hammer out a deal. Russia nixed a scheduled meeting of the U.N. Security Council Tuesday, but diplomats hope to win Kremlin backing for a session soon.
The takeaway - Congress was already obviously unwilling to act. Obama’s move may help him save face and buy time to build an international coalition. But now, with the U.S. at the mercy of Russia for a diplomatic solution, Obama is nearly out of running room.